Oct. 25, 2017
Duquesne (6-1, 3-0) hits the road for an NEC matchup at Sacred Heart (3-4, 1-1) on Saturday at noon ET. The Dukes are coming off a 24-7 win over St. Francis while the Pioneers defeated Robert Morris 21-14 last week.
Running back A.J. Hines was named the NEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week after finishing with 160 yards from scrimmage in the Dukes' win over SFU.
DU has now won six games in a row, its longest winning streak since the 2002 season.
The Dukes defense limited the Red Flash to a season-low 153 yards including just 30 rushing yards on Saturday. DU forced three turnovers and tallied five sacks by five different players in the win.
Quarterback Tommy Stuart accounted for two touchdowns against SFU, throwing for one score and
rushing for another. He has finished with at least two total touchdowns in all seven games this year.
Wide receiver Nehari Crawford is tied for the FCS lead with 10 receiving touchdowns on the season.
Duquesne has won six games in a row following a 24-7 victory over St. Francis last Saturday at Rooney Field. The Dukes' six-game winning streak is their longest since the 2002 season.
DU is off to its first 3-0 start in the Northeast Conference (NEC) era. The Dukes last started 3-0 in conference play in 2005 as members of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC).
DU is receiving 22 votes in the latest STAS FCS Top 25 released on Monday.
Dukes running back A.J. Hines (Wilson, N.C./Fike) garnered NEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week honors for his performance in DU's 24-7 victory over St. Francis. He recorded 160 yards from scrimmage, including a game-high 123 rushing yards and 37 receiving yards in the triumph.
Sacred Heart is coming off a 21-14 win at Robert Morris last Saturday in which defensive back Khaamal Whitaker returned an interception 46 yards for the game-winning touchdown with just 12 ticks to play in the fourth quarter. Whitaker, who finished with two picks in the contest, was named the NEC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance.
Saturday's matchup in Fairfield will feature the top two rushing defenses in the league as the Pioneers are first at 122.9 yards per game while the Dukes are limiting opponents to 127.3 rushing yards per contest.
Sacred Heart also features the top rushing offense in the league, averaging 187.9 yards per game while DU is second in pass offense (227.0 ypg.) and third in rushing offense (180.1 ypg.).
The Dukes were selected as the preseason favorite in the NEC while the Pioneers were picked to finish fifth in the league. The Pioneers posted a 6-5 overall mark and a 1-5 ledger in NEC play last season.
Wide receiver Nehari Crawford (Fort Pierce, Fla./Fort Pierce Central) is tied for the FCS lead with 10 receiving touchdowns on the season.
Quarterback Tommy Stuart (Baltimore, Md./Calvert Hall/Boise State) is fourth in the country with 21 passing touchdowns on the year.
In addition, Stuart is third in points responsible for (21.4), fifth in pass efficiency (171.5) and sixth in completion percentage (68.8 percent). He has completed 128-of-186 pass attempts on the year.
After sitting out two games with an injury during the early stages of the season, A.J. Hines has paced the Dukes on the ground in each of the last three weeks, including a combined 253 rushing yards the last two games. Just a sophomore, he now has 10 career 100-yard rushing games.
100-YARD RUSHING GAMES - CAREER
24 - Larry McCoy 2009-12
21 - Donte Small 1998-01
14 - Mike Hilliard 1999-03
10 - A.J. Hines 2016-
9 - Bill Green 1992-95
8 - Andre Hatcher 1996-98
DU ranks second in the FCS in red zone offense, scoring on 96.2 percent (25-of-26) of trips inside its opponents' red zone.
After dropping its season opener at fourth-ranked South Dakota State, DU is outscoring opponents by an average of 37-16 during the Dukes' five-game winning streak. DU is outscoring NEC opponents 113-21.
Linebacker Nathan Stone (Scottdale, Pa./Greensburg Central Catholic) was recently named a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, awarded to the top scholar-athlete in college football.
Duquesne is 34-17 in NEC play over the past seven seasons. The Dukes went 4-11 in their first two years in the conference while making the transition to a scholarship model. DU is 13-2 in NEC play over the past three years.
The victory over WV Wesleyan marked Duquesne's 100th win at Arthur J. Rooney Field, which has served as the home of the Dukes since the1993 season. With the triumph, Duquesne has now won 10 straight home openers.
Nehari Crawford has paced the Duquesne receivers this season with 41 catches for 618 yards and ten touchdowns.
Senior Chavas Rawlins (Monessen, Pa./Monessen/West Virginia) has 27 receptions for 235 yards and three touchdowns while junior Kareem Coles (San Diego, Calif./Madison/Idaho) has caught 14 passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns.
Sophomore Kellon Taylor (Landover, Md./DeMatha Catholic) has three touchdown catches on the year. Taylor, also a member of the DU basketball team, has 12 receptions for 185 yards on the season.
Linebacker Carter Henderson (Murrysville, Pa./Franklin Regional/Penn State) leads the Dukes with 42 tackles (23 solo) in six games on the year to go with 3.5 tackles for loss, a sack and two quarterback hurries. Fellow Murrysville native Brett Zanotto (Murrysville, Pa./Franklin Regional/Maryland) is second on the team with 41 tackles on the season (team-high 25 solo) with 5.0 tackles for loss, four quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Nathan Stone has 34 tackles (17 solo) this season with a team-high 6.0 tackles for loss including 2.5 sacks and a fumble recovery. Junior defensive back Abner Roberts (Pittsburgh, Pa./University Prep) has tallied 31 tackles (20 solo) with a team-high three interceptions and two pass breakups.
Junior cornerback Jonathant Istache (Belle Glade, Fla./Glades Central) has a team-high eight passes defended on the season including seven pass breakups and an interception. In addition, he has forced a pair of fumbles and had a 40-yard fumble recovery against St. Francis. Istache also has 24 tackles (20 solo) on the season.
Duquesne posted an 8-3 record last season with a 5-1 mark in Northeast Conference play, earning a share of the conference crown. The Dukes have captured at least a share of the NEC title in four of the last six seasons. (2011, 2013, 2015, 2016). Duquesne returns 13 position starters entering the 2017 season (five on offense, eight on defense).
The Dukes are 35-25 in non-conference games under 13th-year head coach Jerry Schmitt with wins over Robert Morris (three times prior to joining the NEC), Dayton (seven times), Bucknell (four times), Fordham (twice), Albany (once as a CAA member) and Monmouth (as an independent). At home, the Dukes are 23-3 in non-league play.
This marks the 13th meeting between the Dukes and Pioneers in the series that dates back to the 2001 season.
DU has won two straight against SHU including a 31-10 victory last season.
The Dukes are 4-1 against the Pioneers in Fairfield and 6-3 vs. SHU in the NEC era. Head coach Jerry Schmitt is 8-3 against the Pioneers.
DUQUESNE 31, SACRED HEART 10 - In a matchup of the two top passers in NEC history, it was the Duquesne defense that stole the show, holding Sacred Heart to season lows in total yardage and points in a 31-10 win at Rooney Field.
Linebacker Christian Kuntz had a pair of sacks to break the Duquesne career record and tie the NEC career mark as the Dukes held the Pioneers to 225 yards.
Duquesne's Dillon Buechel, who went over the 10,000 career yard passing mark early in the fourth quarter, finished with 238 yards passing, while Sacred Heart's R.J. Noel, who entered the game a little over 900 yards behind Buechel, was held to 93 yards through the air.
Freshman running back A.J. Hines ran for 86 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the Dukes, who finished with 381 total yards.
SCOUTING SACRED HEART
After starting the season with two straight wins over Stetson and on the road at Lafayette, the Pioneers dropped four straight at Stony Brook, at Bucknell, vs. Central Connecticut and vs. Dartmouth. Sacred Heart bounced back with a win over Robert Morris last week.
The Pioneers also needed to replace a four-year starting quarterback in RJ Noel, who finished as Sacred Heart's all-time leading passer with 1,364 career passing yards.
Sacred Heart features the top rushing offense (187.9 ypg.) and the top rushing defense (122.9 ypg.) in the NEC. While the Pioneers have the top rushing offense in the conference, they do not have a running back in the top five in rushing in the league. SHU has six players averaging between 30.0 and 46.6 yards per game.
Quarterback Kevin Duke is the fourth-leading passer in the NEC (214.6 ypg.) and ranks 10th in rushing (35.4 ypg.). He has thrown for seven touchdowns with 10 interceptions.
LAST TIME OUT
DUQUESNE 24, ST. FRANCIS 7 - Duquesne overcame an early deficit, scoring 24 unanswered points and forcing two first-half turnovers en route to a 24-7 victory over St. Francis.
The Dukes held St. Francis to a season-low 153 total yards, including just 30 yards on the ground.
Tommy Stuart completed 15-of-22 pass attempts for 142 yards and a touchdown to go with 11 rushes for 46 yards and a rushing touchdown.
A.J. Hines ran for a game-high 123 yards on 28 carries. He eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the 10th time in his career and the third time this season.
Chavas Rawlins paced the Dukes' receiving corps with five receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown.
Jonathant Istache led the Duquesne defense with seven tackles (six solo) with a pair of pass breakups and a forced fumble.
SACRED HEART 21, ROBERT MORRIS 14 - Khaamal Whitaker intercepted a pass and returned it 46 yards for the game-winning touchdown at Joe Walton Stadium. Whitaker finished with two interceptions in the game, earning NEC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his performance.
The Pioneers had missed what would have been the go-ahead field goal from 30 yards with 43 seconds to play. After two completions, Whitaker intercepted on the third play of the drive.
Byron Barney led all players with 135 receiving yards in the win.